A common question we have in our office is “who pays the medical bills”? The answer to this question is not that simple and varies on a case to case basis.
If you are injured in an auto accident and insured with an Oregon Insurance policy, it is your auto insurance who pays the initial medical bills through the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) portion of your policy. If you are injured on someone’s premises, the landowner’s insurance may have some medical pay coverage available for some of the initial bills. If not, it is your health insurance who will pick up the tab. If you don’t have health insurance you may be stuck with unpaid medical bills while you attempt to negotiate a settlement with the third party insurance company. These situations can be handled in a way which will mitigate the financial risk and harm to the injured party, but there are no clear protections under the law.
One party that rarely pays the medical bills immediately after the accident is the liable party. The liable party, mostly being represented by an insurance company, will generally not pay any sums before the injured party agrees to one lump sum payment in exchange for a release. Therefore, what an injured party does with the medical bills before settling with the insurance company becomes very important because it can affect the injured parties ability to get future treatment and to last during the duration of a lawsuit. Having an attorney properly evaluate your injury claim is important, because the final settlement amount not only includes all past harm, but future harm as well. Since an insurance company wishes to offer one lump sum in exchange for a signing of the release and the closure of the claim, it is very rare for an insurance company in to offer to pay continuing medical bills. In circumstances where medical care will continue into the future, it is up to the injured party and their attorney to secure enough funds or proper insurance coverage to cover future medical expenses.